Paraguay's government declared a national state of emergency on Wednesday amid the worst ever forest fires there.
The flames have ravaged more that 100,000 hectares of forest crops and grazing pasture in central South America, and burned dozens of rural houses in three northeastern provinces. The country's President, Nicanor Duarte, issued the decree after the fires worsened in four provinces. The fires have been partly blamed on land-clearing and burning by subsistence farmers. Mr Duarte, who has been criticized for reacting too slowly, said the state would pay to rent a Russian water-carrying aircraft that was used to fight devastating blazes that swept Greece in August. "With this plane, we'll be stepping up the government's work in the northern zone," he told reporters. Most of the fires were blamed on farmers deliberately setting small blazes to clear lands for cotton and soybean crop planting. Asunción International airport was close several hours to the traffic because the smoke.